Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Archive for June 2008

Hecate at the Crossroads

with 7 comments


Hecate stands at the crossroads with dog and stoat
to fill baskets
with words of wisdom.

Heather Blakey June 2008

Written by Heather Blakey

June 29, 2008 at 11:29 am

Papa’s Mushrooms

with 8 comments

This is an excerpt from a manuscript titled the Christmas Eve Shop. The character of Sophia is named after my grandmother and it is her story of the mushrooms that my mother told often over the years. I thought perhaps the baskets of mushrooms would fit the cultural theme of this prompt and decided to extend the piece to the end of the book’s chapter.

* * * * * *

“Why Don’t you rest for awhile, Sophia? Sharon offered. “I’ll stir for you.”
“Stir, but don’t steal too many. Already I have only half. Mel is helping, too.” Mel shrugged and smiled his broad smile.
“Your tree has some brown leaves,” Sharon noticed, pushing aside the embroidered curtain and looking out the kitchen window. “Autumn’s going to be early this year.”
She returned to her task as the couple sat and discussed the pros and cons of her observation. A few minutes later she informed Sophia, “The mushrooms seem about done. Shall I put them in the kapusta?”
The older woman got up and joined her at the stove. “They are ready. Not so good like Polish mushrooms, but what can you do? In my country, always we would go to pick mushrooms, Mama, Papa, my sisters and me. Each one carried a little basket, and when we came home Mama would check, make sure all the mushrooms were safe. Even Papa’s basket. Papa would watch her closely.” Sophia’s eyes sparkled at the memory, and her lips twitched as she suppressed a smile. “He was always sure his mushrooms were perfect. But Mama would look carefully at every one and then she would make a sigh, and take two or three little ones out and throw them away.
“One day just before I leave for America, I see Mam go to the garbage and take back Papa’s mushrooms. ‘Your papa,’ she says, ‘is a good man, but when I married him I saw one thing I did not like. Always your papa is so sure he is right. This is no good. So every time I throw away some mushrooms.’”
As Sophia ended her story she began mashing the potatoes. Mel put out the butter and cut the homemade bread into fat slices; Sharon stacked the plates and arranged the mismatched knives and forks. Each worked in contented silence. Even the sparrows had stopped their chattering and were perched, puffed up and drowsy, on their branches. The late-day sun shining through the leaves of Sophia’s tree sent dappled patterns of light and shadow over the walls, floor, and ceiling of the old-fashioned kitchen until the plain wooden furniture glowed.

Finally the meal was ready. Plates were heaped with mounds of mashed potatoes covered with the Polish cabbage and its chunks of pink ham and slivers of brown and black mushrooms. Bread and butter were passed back and forth, and still the spell of silence held.
As the golden afternoon began to melt away, bright patches of sunlight dimmed and faded into shadows. Outside, the first cricket began to chirp, and far in the distance, a lonely cicada whirred.
Evening entered by degrees, tiptoeing into corners, ducking under the table and chairs, layering tone on tone of gray until the darkness was nearly complete.
At last, when Sophia could avoid it no longer, she turned on a brass table lamp whose yellow shade seemed to have caught and imprisoned the setting sun. The three friends talked in hushed tones of times past, the people they’d loved, and the joys that would never be relived. Sophia talked the most, about her childhood in Poland, about her first years un America, but most of all about her husband.
When Sharon and Mel had gone, she stood alone, fingering the embroidered flowers that were still vivid after so many years. Moonlight filtered through branches and leaves, illuminating the threads like embellishments on a vellum manuscript. Why hadn’t she told them about the curtains?
People had been poor in her little mountain village. When Stanislaus gave her the fine material and colored silk in order to sew a beautiful dress for festivals, she’d burst into tears. Asking how he’d offended her, he’d tried kissing her tears away until she’d shyly pointed to the bare windows in the little farmhouse and begged to make curtains instead. He’d laughed and kissed her again, promising to make every day a festival. Fifty years earlier on her wedding day.

Written by porchsitter

June 29, 2008 at 12:05 am

Posted in Baskets

Tagged with , ,

Basket of Herbs

with 10 comments

Note:This image is not of my grandmother – alas,no photos remain of her.

My grandmother Bridget Kavanagh gathered herbs in a basket, a creel woven from the flexible willow. She knew the Irish landscape intimately,what it could provide, what should be avoided. Her sons laughingly called her `the witch’, but they knew her poultices and potions could heal.

Her boys were the hunters, going out looking for scrap metal, busking on the streets with banjo and old ballads, bringing home fresh caught hare, rabbit or fish. She was the gatherer – she knew where the wild thyme grew.

The basket was an essential piece of equipment for a Traveller woman. On the one hand, they could be made to be sold. On the other hand, those that were kept had many uses, and hung from the caravans filled with pegs, herbs or dry kindling.

A larger basket could be used for a baby, wrapped in a cosy shawl. A life in a basket – it was concept traveller women knew well.

When I was young,I carried a basket rather than a handbag. A handbag simply wasn’t big enough for the things i hauled around with me – my life in a basket. There was my wooden flute, and the latest piece of music I was learning to play. There was always a drawing pad and notebook, ready for whichever muse struck me. A small box of Windsor and Newton water colours and a screw topped jar of water. The latest book I was reading. Plus bits and pieces picked up along the way – shells and driftwood from a walk on the beach, gum nuts and leaves from a walk in the woods, pebbles, flowers pressed between the leaves of my book, and, yes, herbs – although it was their aromatic scents that attracted me rather than their medicinal properties.

In my basket today you will still find these things. I still play old airs on the flute occasionally, I still carry notebooks and drawing pads around (although a digital camera has been added and there are watercolour pencils instead of the paintbox), and I still gather shells, seeds and driftwood. I’m a compulsive beachcomber. But now other things have been added – small gifts for grandchildren, a book one of my daughters would love to read, an extra pair of mittens and a woolly hat for my youngest grandchild. My life, and my basket, have grown much richer.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

June 28, 2008 at 11:58 pm

Posted in Baskets

It’s All In The Hips

with 3 comments

How boring is the world we live in?

I’m glad you asked because I have THE answer.

It is so boring that

no one made a big deal out of the fact that

Hula Hoops have been with us for 50 years.


So get your Hoops out and  Hula Already

What are you waiting for?

The Anniversary of the Yo- Yo

which I’ll bet gets ignored too…


Written by Anita Marie

June 28, 2008 at 6:36 pm

the basket of possibility

with 6 comments

Bristol, a city of famous seafarers, travelers and adventurers, was my birthplace. It is also home to the first hot air balloon factory of Don Cameron . In keeping with the traveler within me, it is therefore fitting that my culture basket should the basket of a hot air balloon. I never thought I would ever get the chance to fly in a hot air balloon – symbol of my dreams – but I have, 3 times. Each flight was magical. The silence of the early morning, the quality of the light and, above all the silence – except for the roar of the flames holding the balloon above.

culture basket

hot air balloon

hot air balloon

hot air balloons

All those qualities of the early adventurers are my cultural heritage: invention, imagination, creativity, dreams, inspiration and the thirst for knowledge.

(the photos were taken at the 11th world hot air balloon festival, Meysembourg, Luxembourg, in August 1993)

Written by traveller2006

June 28, 2008 at 12:30 pm

Posted in Art, Baskets


with 4 comments

It seemed like such an easy thing.

Red ink.

Swirled and pressed.

Pounded within my flesh.

Marking me. Branding me.

How little did I know.

How could I not see?

A link.

A continuity.

Binding me ever deeper with the forces

That came before me.

Ancestor upon Ancestor.

Realm upon realm.

Taking me in,

Drawing me ever dear.

Speaking to me in tongues

To which my blood alone could respond

So forgotten was the lore.

Now as my body absorbs

Taking in flesh and bone and mettle

Consuming the history.

Breaking me open bit by bit

Stuffing the Mysteries inside

While at the same time

Yanking them out

Forcing me to recognize

The power that flowers

Blooming at all levels

Heart and body and mind

Spirit drenched in the blood

Come from centuries

Wars and kings

Bards and men

Poets and fiefs

Clear eyes and dark browed

The thrumming beat of the Northmen

Cleve my brittle soul

Encouraging me to be more

To leave my past alone

And to take up banner and shield for them

Once more

written by Raven TK

Written by Tabitha Low

June 26, 2008 at 9:04 pm

Posted in A Poem a Day, RavenTK

Ocean Mother

with 3 comments

Wrap me up in your long arms

Dragging me under

Stroking my hair

As we drown within

Drawing up deep

Snuffling the sand

Burrowing in

Back and within


Helpless and captured

I am nothing but yours

Arms over arm

Mine over yours

A writhing mass

Interlocked and seething

Here I am

There you are

We and me

You in me

Ripping aside the dreams

The facades

It took me so long to build up

Tearing away brick by brick

Every single wall

All those lifetimes

It took to them build

Here I am

Ink in my throat

Frozen as we move along

In the free flow of the abyss

Sucked along

Spiralling as we go

Inside and outside

Further out to go

Meandering ever inward

Ever onward

Hearts beating nearly one

Completely undone

I am utterly enveloped

Devoured my soul

And lost


Cast aside

My marrow has been sparked

Drawn forth

Set accursed and aflame

Banished from sight and hearing

Pulled ever on, ever in


Always moving

Between one level and the next

And in between yet again

Through wet and dry

And ice and sand

The volcanic graves

Bursting forth from within

Shoving me inside the cave

To throw me out

The bright light of the sun


As I swallow down the Moon

Expelling the salt

The chaff

And moving on and on and on

Again and again

Aching to feel your touch

To know your strength

Teacher fellow mother

Harken unto the darkest call

And set me free

And freeing me

Enslave me

With the knowledge

As well as the testing

There to always be

Burned alive

Buried alive

Swallowed whole

And I am nothing


Than ever I could be

With you

Glowing and working


Inside of me

written by Raven TK

Written by Tabitha Low

June 26, 2008 at 8:52 pm

Posted in A Poem a Day, RavenTK